A Mothers Day of Reflection

“Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship our spirit finds
Is like to that above.”
John Fawcett

One of my favorite moments of the past year is one only I will remember.

I swept my toddling granddaughter up into my arms at a family gathering. I talked fast, to say my heart before she could wiggle down and waddle back to Mommy.

“I held you when you were tiny,” I began.

She smiled and stayed still. She listened. I sensed she understood that I was telling her the beginning of our story–the moment she and I first met and the words I told her then.

“Jesus loves you. Grandma loves you. You have a wonderful mommy and daddy.”

I added that we’d been waiting for her.

It’s a tiny moment I may, if God wills, repeat to her over the years. Something I hope and pray will tie a new string between our hearts each time I say it. A string that is a piece of a cord of love.

This Mothers Day was a time of separation–a time that stretched our cords of connection. Not in the certainty of our connections. Just in the yearning for each other’s presence once more.

We never would have imagined we would suffer this separation.

Before our Father’s throne,
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one–
Our comforts and our cares.

Our fears as one is an idea that is more universal in light of the coronavirus crisis. In our separation, we have opportunity to bear one another’s burdens. To strengthen the cords of connection in a unity of distance. We all miss each other.

When we asunder part
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.

It’s a Mothers’ Day we will all remember. We hope next year’s will be different, more like others in the past, yet its own. A day of meeting and connecting.

Each meeting makes a thread to strengthen our cords of connection. Every story told, every memory, every moment of interaction build bonds between us.

There can be a strengthened bond in the anticipation of those moments–our desire laying its own fibers of connection.

God bless the ties that bind our hearts in His love.

Photo Credit: Family Photo

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Memories and Tradition

This weekend, my family will gather to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. Earlier this week, I pulled out the little cookbook, the one nearly as old as she is, with that pumpkin cupcake recipe that has come to mark her special day. The book fell open to that page. Stains from other years mark decades of use.

I thought of times I had made these cupcakes for school parties, church events, and these family gatherings.

I tweaked the recipe to include butter instead of margarine and with chocolate chips to make it my own. When they’re done, I coat them in store-bought icing with added red and yellow food coloring to make orange.

The children and some of the grandchildren are convinced that the color somehow adds flavor. “It tastes different,” they say.

Perhaps it is the savor of tradition and memory.

A series of autumns, seasons of life spinning past. Snapshots march through my mind of babies in high chairs, then booster seats. Time waltzed us through their teen years, their weddings, the births of their own young ones. And we wait with one of the young ones waiting for his second child.

Now there are new birthdays with new recipes and new traditions.

I think of my children’s laughter, how it is the most resplendent music to a parent’s ear, and the passage of time does not diminish its beauty. How it doesn’t matter how old your children are, you still feel joy when they laugh.

We get a picture of heaven as we sit around a table with our children, with their children (and their children) nearby. We listen to the laughter, the chatter, even the arguments. There are vignettes that exist in our memories, our conversations, those snapshots of our minds unfolding as we march toward eternity.

It occurs to me that God feels joy when His children laugh. When my friends and I were young mothers, older, wiser ones would warn us that as our children grew, so would their troubles. As we feel joy when they laugh, we also hurt when they hurt. And so does God. When we hurt, He hurts for us.

I cannot make heaven on earth because earth’s purpose is to prepare me for heaven.

The next season coming up is the one when we remember that God came to dwell with us. He was a stranger to earth. So are we.

In his book Heaven, Randy Alcorn quotes C.S. Lewis; “I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same” (456).

We are not there yet, but for His followers, there is joy in laughter and redemption of all our pains.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Layers of Memory and Legacy

It was my birthday. I don’t remember which one. But my brother pulled me around our neighborhood on my sled. His gift to me.

Another memory: We were grown. His wife was finishing a bout with a 24-hour bug. I must have been having car trouble because he and I were in his car with my five kids and his three kids on our way home from church youth activities.

My sister-in-law wanted a Big Mac–her post-illness craving. So we pulled into a McDonald’s drive-through for our one sandwich order–with ten people in the car.

My brother joked “Can we have a knife with that? We have to cut it up ten ways?”

The worker turned to comply when my brother said, “No, no, I’m just kidding.” People who work in McD drive-throughs probably see it all.

Soon after that, he and his family moved to the northwestern-most corner of our state–about a four-hour drive away.

We visited each other in summers and sometimes over Thanksgiving or Easter weekend. Sometimes, one or two of my kids would enjoy an extended visit.

He and his wife have modeled nearly 45 years of marriage. But his parenting style also caught the attention of my kids.

Last week, my brother got to spend most of a vacation week with most of my kids and their kids.

It gave them the chance to tell him what he meant to them as they were growing up.

Yesterday we had a family birthday celebration. We sang “Happy Birthday” to three of us, each from a different generation. Multiple birthday celebrations are common with our crowd. And when we get to the names part of the song, we are all calling names in random order. Joyful chaos.

Love is in the singing and the celebration. The food and the talking. Love is in the everyday living. Love is in the memories we carry with us.

There is power in the building of memories. Character grows in the young by thin layers built upon previous layers. We can’t see the importance of a simple layer until later.

Each story, each instance a touching of hearts, another layer.

“The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.” ~ Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Each layer, touch, story, memory built over a lifetime to glue us together. To make us family.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friends, Family, and Revolutions

“In a post-Christian culture the dominant worldview is not longer founded on Christian principles. . . The Church no longer shapes the culture. . . . In a very real sense, this ‘post-Christian’ world is coming full circle to resemble the pre-Christian world.” From Seven Revolutions: How Christianity Changed the World and Can Change It AgainAquilina and Papandrea, 23.

In the 1950s and ’60s we made room for Daddy and Father knew best, and Donna Reed’s version of Mom held her own as did Lucille Ball’s.

Entertainment mirrors society. As the family is the foundation of Christian culture, so it was in the land of television more than half a century ago. But in the late ’60s and into the ’70s, as America turned away from devotion to God, television lost its devotion to family.

In the 1970s Archie Bunker was a cartoonish father who did not know best. Television celebrated the single woman with Marlo Thomas’s That Girl and Mary Tyler Moore’s self-named series. Men were accessories, not necessities.

In the late ’70s came One Day at a Time, celebrating the woman emancipated by divorce. In the 1990s, Seinfeld was a show about nothing and Friends brought us the sexual escapades of six friends who sometimes came with benefits. Slowly, the television family had been distorted.

Television has become a primary conduit of culture with the average child viewing 28 to 32 hours a week of programming. Television provides much of the information we receive and shapes our ideas. It is an influence on par with the Church and family of the past.

A child growing up on a steady diet of typical network programming would think friendship to be the foundational life relationship, not marriage or a family connection. That sounds like a strange idea. But it’s an idea the world has embraced before.

The Ancient Greek Achilles spent most of the Trojan War upset that he had lost his “prize”–a woman/sex slave he had won through his feats. He only reentered the fight to avenge the death of his friend Patroclus.

Achilles’ fellow soldier Odysseus spent 20 years yearning to get home to his wife. The war consumed 10 years as Odysseus fought beside male counterparts. He spent the next 10 years trying to get home to his faithful Penelope, but enjoying some dalliances along the way. Odysseus retired to marriage; he did not invest his life in it. His son grew to manhood with his father absent.

The Trojan survivor Aeneas left his lover Dido to achieve his greater destiny–founding Rome. Aeneas later married Lavinia after brokering the deal with her father. “The Roman gentlemen we meet in literature were more likely to reserve ‘love’ for the exalted philosophical relationship between equals [other men of their social standing] that they theoretically prized” (Aquilina and Papandrea 71).

Ancient Greeks and Romans reserved affection for friends; marriage was about deal making. American feminism in the 1970s asserted that marriage was a financial arrangement, detrimental to women. Now unmarried couples cohabitate to save money. And prenuptial agreements and no-fault divorce laws do not seem to have contributed greatly to the romance or longevity of marriage.

For some people today, friendship does supersede marriage as the primary relationship. It’s not just that some friendships outlast some marriages. That can happen in any age. It’s that many Americans have come to expect more from their friendships and less from their marriages, just as ancient pagans did.

“From the point of view of Roman tradition, the single most revolutionary thing in Christianity was Paul’s startling instruction “Husbands, love your wives” (71).

The more America rejects traditional marriage and the family, the more like the pagan world America becomes. And the more pagan our nation becomes, the more clearly Christianity should stand out in contrast.

But “the truth is that many self-proclaimed Christians are joining the paganization of the culture, not to mention the criticism of Christianity itself” (23).

To embrace true Christianity today means becoming revolutionary. People will only hear us if we are willing to recognize the “challenges to traditional faith, call them out, and resist them. We will also need to support one another . . . speaking up for our brothers and sisters when they are ridiculed.”

Unity among Christians who embrace orthodoxy in faith and tradition in marriage and family will be crucial to our effectiveness in once more turning the world upside down.

“In this way, the Church of the twenty-first century can overcome the new paganism the way the Church of the pre-Christian world overcame the old paganism . . . by refusing to deny the faith and by being willing to risk our lives (or the comfort of our lifestyles) for something bigger than ourselves” (32).

Refuse to deny. Be willing to risk. Pursue the God bigger than ourselves.

One at a time, we can overturn paganism for Christ once more.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is available in paperback! Get your copy here!

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Today’s post revised from January 2016

Holiday Anticipation

“The way my family anticipates Christmas feels different from the way we look forward to almost anything else. For other things, we’re excited about learning, seeing, or exploring something new. But Christmas is different. We look forward to it all year. We count down the days, just to experience it nearly exactly as we always have.” Joanna Gaines, Magnolia Journal, Issue 9~

Every year, the stores seem to decorate earlier. Santa arrives earlier. Online shopping decreased the hustle and bustle–at least in public. The early decorating seems to be a quest to set the mood–to draw buyers into stores.

Last year, the stores in my locale weren’t crowded. I shopped in the traditional way–but without the crowds. 

It was great. But I wonder if online shoppers felt like they were missing something–if something about their Christmas experience seemed incomplete. 

Last week–one week before Thanksgiving–we received 10.6 inches of snow. 

Thursday and Friday were snow days–closed schools with some businesses following suit. People stayed home and stayed inside except to clear their sidewalks and driveways. Those who had to went to work on Friday. But anyone who could did not venture far. 

Saturday was different. On Saturday, the snow had done its magic and there I was digging out Christmas music and lighting a balsalm fir candle. 

Then I went shopping (after extinguishing the candle) to discover the crowds had returned. Lines weren’t too bad. But traffic was heav.

The snow (and perhaps some early retail discounts) called us back to a time when shopping was an adventure requiring movement, planning, navigation, and socialization.  

The forecaster I married assures me the snow will be gone before Thursday and may not return for Christmas.

No matter. The weather has evoked memories of white days and glowing trees in years past. We are drawn to the season of peace–a respite from the world of bitter politics and bad news.

We anticipate, count the days, and wait. We work, buying, wrapping, cleaning, decorating, cooking, and baking to relive and recreate a day to carry with us through the year.

Our lives are threads tying generations together. Holidays are exclamations.

Proclaim God’s goodness. Happy Thanksgiving. 

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Welcome Fall

It’s finally come. The crisp cool air. We’ve had only our second wood stove fire. Warming our house instead of trying to cool it down.

The sun rises and sets earlier. I find that comforting. It draws me home to comfort and good foods. To hot tea and a peaceful solitude that feeds my spirit.

But this is also the time many family traditions kick in.

This week, my preparations continue for trick-or-treat night proceed in earnest. I plan to purchase several bags of locally made candy. 

For years, I’d forgotten that we have a candy factory right here. And buying candy there supports local jobs.

But I’ve already bought some candy from the grocery store this year. Just a couple of bags. Just for the grandkids. I found glow-in-the-dark packaging wrapped around chocolate. That’s perfect for the new tradition begun last year–the trick-or-treat scavenger hunt–conducted in the dark hallways of my house.

Last year, it was glowing paint on wiry spiders that I found on clearance. This year, the grandchildren can go hunting for treats.

Welcome fall. Welcome to this time for traditions and memories. And for new ways to make new traditions, new memories. What are some of yours?

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Life Quilt: A Voice for the Future

One generation praises your deeds to the next and proclaims your mighty works. Psalm 145:4. 

They were projects that took me years to complete. And in the end, I wasn’t even the one who completed them. In fact, I wasn’t even the one who started them.

Two old quilts. The first one came from my son-in-law’s grandmother. My daughter wanted her little girl to have a quilt her great-grandmother made and her grandmother (me) restored. I picked another one up in an antique store. Its crafter remains unknown.

So there was one quilt for each granddaughter.

Restoration was my task. To take two old things–no longer pretty–and only one with family significance–and infuse them with beauty, function, and meaning. I began to gather scraps for the girls to carry through their lives and pass along later. Continue reading “Life Quilt: A Voice for the Future”

Magical, but More

It was magical.

There were five of us. My two daughters, a daughter-in-law, a friend who’s a Disney pro, and me–not quite a rookie, but not as seasoned as our friend.

I wanted to make memories that would last–good memories for us to carry with us. I felt so thankful to be there with them.

We had wonderful meals, drank tea, and ate lavish desserts. We laughed. We talked. And we walked. And walked some more.

We spun around the Carousel of Progress that I’d ridden on at the New York World’s Fair in 1965. We met one daughter’s favorite princess–Mary Poppins. We reveled in the Magic Kingdom fireworks and light show. Continue reading “Magical, but More”